Arizona is one of the top destination states for RV travelers. It’s chock full of fun things to see and do, from exploring the Grand Canyon to wandering amongst the taller-than-expected cacti at Saguaro National Park.
And if you haven’t put Phoenix on your to-travel list yet, you’re really missing out. The capital city of the state of Arizona, this sprawling metropolis is chock full of fascinating museums, exciting cultural pursuits and delicious meals to be had.
What Can I Take My Kids to in Phoenix?
For families traveling with children, however, there are always additional considerations to keep in mind. What family-friendly activities will you be able to find in Phoenix, and which of the attractions on your list will welcome every member of your camping party?
In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the best things to do in Phoenix with a family in tow, from the city’s famous zoo to some lesser-known museums and natural attractions.
Best of all, the things in this list are just as sure to keep mom and dad entertained as they are to put a smile on the kids’ faces… so think of it less as a list of Phoenix family attractions and more as a list of fun things you didn’t know you wanted to do!
15 Fun Things to Do in the Phoenix Area with Kids
From wild animal adventures to hands-on educational exhibits, here are some of our favorite things to do in Phoenix, AZ with your family.
1. Phoenix Zoo
A trip to the zoo makes for an excellent family activity in any city — but especially in Phoenix, Arizona, which is home to the largest private not-for-profit zoo in the country. The Phoenix Zoo is home to over 3,000 animals, including 30 endangered or threatened species. It also offers fun and informative tours, events and activities to take your family deep into the heart of the wild.
Tickets to the Phoenix Zoo start at $24.95 for general admission adults and $16.95 for general admission kids from 3-13. Discounts are available if you purchase your tickets ahead of time online, however, and the zoo’s hours vary seasonally. See this page for full details.
2. Desert Botanical Garden
It may be a desert, but that doesn’t mean it’s not chock-full of life — including fascinating adaptations that have allowed plants to thrive even in the harshest, dryest, hottest conditions.
You and your fam can get an insider’s take at the Desert Botanical Garden, a 140-acre property displaying some of the best and brightest examples of Arizona’s lush landscape. You can also take a gander at rotating art exhibits populating the gardens, and get the kids excited about stewardship with family nature walks and educational activities.
Tickets to the Desert Botanical Garden start at $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 3-17 years of age. Kids under three get in free! Hours are generally 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with some variances for holidays and member-exclusive openings; see this page for full details.
3. Papago Park
While you’re dropping by the Desert Botanical Gardens and the Zoo, be sure to save some time for the larger attraction — because both the gardens and the zoo are actually just one small part of Phoenix’s beloved Papago Park.
Along with these fun family activities, Papago Park offers miles of trails for walking and biking and just taking in the scenery, as well as a fishing lagoon, archery range, orienteering course, golf course and more. Although the park doesn’t offer overnight parking or camping, it is totally free to enter — though the zoo, gardens, and other attractions do come at additional costs.
4. Arizona Science Center
Science is, pretty undeniably, awesome. It’s all around us and it powers everything we see, hear, and experience.
But depending on their science classes, your kid might not be as fired up about the subject as they could be.
All that will change with a trip to the Arizona Science Center, the state’s premier destination for hands-on educational exhibits that will delight and inform children and adults alike. Take a grand tour of the solar system at the Dorrance Planetarium or visit Victoria the T. Rex… or just meander around the permanent collection of exhibits to learn all about human bodies, forces of nature, the science of flight and more.
Tickets to the Arizona Science Center start at $19.95 for non-member adults and $14.95 for non-member children between 3-17. Discounts are available for those who order their tickets online ahead of time, and if you purchase a membership, your tickets are free thereafter.
The Science Center also offers a variety of day passes and multi-attraction tickets to ensure you see as much of the exhibit as you want. Click here for full details and to buy tickets online ahead of your trip.
5. Musical Instrument Museum
Got a kiddo who can’t get enough noisemaking? Steer their energies in a melodic direction by inspiring them to pick up an instrument!
While you’re in Phoenix, a trip to the Musical Instrument Museum may just help your cause. Along with being one of the town’s top-rated attraction on Tripadvisor and ranked in the top 15 museums nationwide, the MIM is also a wealth of opportunity for parents, offering dozens of events, activities and programs directly oriented towards kids and teens.
The MIM is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, and general admission tickets start at $20 for adults, $15 for teens (13-19) and $10 for kids 4-12. Kids three and under get in free, and other ticket prices are also available for those who want to add on special exhibits — or only see special exhibits and not the permanent collection. Click here for full details.
6. Children’s Museum of Phoenix
If you and your kids make a habit of visiting children’s museums in every city you visit, you definitely want to put Phoenix’s on the list. From hands-on experiments to a quiet space to read together, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix earns its reputation as one of the best such institutions in the country… and has a diverse enough set of exhibits to keep everyone in the family entertained, mom and dad included.
Tickets start at $14.95 for non-members, with discounts available for seniors of the age of 62. The museum also offers a spate of additional programs, such as a day camp and spring camp for kids and even an adult-oriented “Play Date” event, where those aged 21 and older can recapture their childhood wonder around food trucks, cash bars, dance floors, retro games and more. Click here for full details.
7. Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs
Long, long ago, the Earth’s separate continents were actually one giant landmass — and huge, fascinating creatures roamed the lands in search of families and food.
At Phoenix’s Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs, you and your family can get a first-hand experience of what life was like all those many, many years ago, learning all about specific dinos as well as taking on free, interactive exhibits like the T. Rex obstacle course and a fossil dig.
Pangea also offers shopping and dining options, as well as special events including live entertainment and special vendors. Ticket prices vary depending on what attractions you’re visiting, and hours vary slightly daily, so check out their website for full details.
8. Butterfly Wonderland
Experience the rainforest at this one-of-a-kind attraction, where you get to visit not only butterflies, but also rainforest reptiles, honey bees, invertebrates and more. There’s even an edible insect station where you and your bravest family members can take a bite out of entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. Their valuable protein is packed in flavorful chips, chocolates and coconut brittle, so we promise it’s not as bad as it sounds!
Butterfly Wonderland also offers special events, like a Valentine’s Day date night, as well as guided tours. Tickets are available online and vary depending on how many exhibits you’re planning to get to, so check out the website for full details. (They also list daily hours right at the top of the homepage.)
The Top Phoenix Family Activities and Attractions
Did you think we were done with our list of can’t-miss family attractions in Phoenix? Think again! Here are even more great activities and exhibits to explore together.
9. Pioneer Living History Museum
Want to hobnob with real, live cowboys, lawmen, and stately Victorian ladies?
At the Pioneer Living History Museum, you’ll see what life was like between 1863-1912, courtesy of a 90-acre property populated with authentic historic buildings as well as convincing reproductions. For starters, there’s an Opera House, a blacksmith shop, a sheriff’s office and a jail, not to mention all the fun live events that the reenactors put on on a daily basis. The museum also offers fun birthday party accommodations and hosts the Association of Arizona Gunslingers Cowboy Fast Draw Events. In short, there’s plenty to see and experience for everyone in the family.
Tickets to the museum start at $10 for adults and $8 for kids 18 and under, with children under 5 getting in for free. Other prices are available for additional exhibits, and full details on museum hours are available at this page.
10. Hall of Flame Fire Museum
It’s not often you run into a museum of firefighting — so if you’re in Phoenix, you’d better take advantage of the opportunity! Sponsored by the National Historical Fire Foundation, this museum offers almost an acre of exhibits, including over 100 pieces of fully restored fire apparatus dating from 1725 all the way to 2004.
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is a great way to get your kids interested in how these important first responders do their work. Who knows? The trip may just inspire one of your young ones to take up the hose for themselves!
Tickets to the Hall of Flame are $10 for adults, $8 for students aged 6-17, $4 for children aged 3-5 and $8 for seniors over the age of 62. Kids under three are admitted to the museum for free, and full details on operating hours is available at its website.
11. OdySea Mirror Maze
Take an escape room, and add a hall of mirrors effect… and some lasers, just to make it that much more awesome.
You’d get something approximating OdySea Mirror Maze, a fun Scottsdale attraction that’s sure to get the kids nice and worn out for bedtime.
Better still: the Mirror Maze is right next door to Butterfly Wonderland, and ticket packages are available to get you and your family into a number of its sister attractions. Prices range depending on which mazes you’re interested in tackling, but the property is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Check this page for full details on hours and admission.
12. Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
It’s hard to fully capture the epic scale of human history — which is why seeing real, tangible evidence can make such a difference in getting kids excited about what came before.
The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is a 47-acre property that boasts the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the greater Phoenix area, which you can explore via a leisurely, self-guided quarter-mile nature stroll.
To make things even more interesting, the Preserve regularly hosts guided tours and lectures to help you get even more context on what you’re seeing. There are also plenty of animals who call this place home, just in case your kids are more interested in wings and scales than rocks.
Admission to the Preserve costs $9 for adults, and $5 for children 7-12. Children six and younger get in free. Discounts are also available for seniors, military members, AAA members and students with valid IDs. Check out the website for full details.
13. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Let’s face it: trains are cool. And that principle stands whether you’re 3, 30, or 300 years old.
So if you’re in Phoenix, it’s well worth taking the time to stop by McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, which is actually a whole collective of shops, museums, and attractions.
Kids and adults alike can go for a whirl on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad or the 1950-vintage Allan Herschell carousel (or both), or learn all about ferroequinology at the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, which brings railroad history to life. There are also plenty of model railroads to take a look at if you’re into miniatures, not to mention all the gifts and souvenirs you’ll find at the on-site vendors.
The Railroad Park works similarly to a carnival in that you purchase tickets which can be traded for admission to different attractions. A single ticket costs $3, and a book of 8 goes for $20; admission to most things costs a single ticket. Click here for full details.
14. Heard Museum
The Native Americans were here before any of us, and their story deserves to be told — and heard. Which is exactly why a trip to the Phoenix Heard Museum is in order, especially for families traveling with children.
The museum features both permanent and rotating exhibits, and hosts vibrant events like hoop dances, a first Friday concert series, film screenings, museum yoga and more. They also offer a number of exhibits specifically built to be family friendly, and have educational resources available for teachers and parents.
Admission to the Heard Museum is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors aged 65 and over, and $9 for college students with valid IDs or youths aged 6-17. Kids aged five and under get in for free! See full details here.
15. Hole in the Rock
While you’re bouncing around Papago Park, there’s one sight you really don’t want to miss — the Hole in the Rock, which might sound pretty simplistic, is actually a stunning work of geological history, and a fun, doable hike even for those traveling with children.
You can check out user reviews of the sight at Tripadvisor or learn more about the park in general on the Phoenix Parks & Recreation webpage. Either way, this is a totally free, active item to add to your family’s Phoenix itinerary, so there’s no reason not to!
What Fun Things Can You Do with Your Family in the Phoenix Area?
Looking for even more fun family activities in Phoenix? Along with all the great stuff listed above, there’s so much more on offer in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area as far as things to do with kids — especially if you’re willing to do some day trips.
For example, it’s only a couple of hours’ drive to Tucson, where you can explore the staggeringly tall cacti at Saguaro National Park, or learn all about Earth’s different eco-zones at Biosphere 2. Or, if you head north instead, you could hit the cute college town of Flagstaff, go hiking in Sedona, or — of course — visit the Grand Canyon. (Hey, it’s on everyone’s travel bucket lists for a reason.)
No matter what you do, we hope you do it while calling an RVshare rental vehicle your home away from home. Our rigs come in every shape, size, and footprint imaginable, including the large, luxurious rigs that make it easy to give your kids (and yourselves) some privacy.
Have fun out there in that blazing sun, campers!
This post may contain affiliate links.